It's time to say goodbye to the after-work happy hour (well, not all the time) in favor of some healthier activities, such as taking a cardio class with a co-worker, catching up on some solo time to unwind, or meeting up with a friend for a comedy show or book club. Having healthy after-work habits can benefit your wellbeing can lead to greater physical and mental health, as the body craves some down-time. By including stress-busting activities in your lifestyle, you'll prime your body for rejuvenation and repair and feel as though you're able to conquer the world.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on making time for activities that will benefit health and wellbeing and working on developing sustainable, positive habits that can be maintained long-term and be seen as enjoyable, flexible, and transformational. When our bodies are too stressed out or do not receive adequate rest, wellness, and love, it can shut down. A body needs to feel refreshed and productive during the week, and if we notice our energy stores plummeting and our minds and bodies aching, it can be a sign that we need to work harder to take care of ourselves. When I feel tense, my whole body tenses, and I experience soreness and discomfort; this alerts me to take action and schedule some down time. Thus, finding ways to be healthier to close the day can help. Here are 11 healthy habits that you can do right after work for a healthier, more balanced, life.
1. Take A "Time In"
As told by Lynne Goldberg, certified meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG. I Can Meditate! app over email with Bustle, taking some inner time to rejuvenate can be beneficial for the soul. "Let yourself decompress from a human-doing to a human-being. We spend so much time at work being in active mode that it is often hard to jump off that moving treadmill. We feel like we have so many things to do on our list that we rush from activity to activity. As counter intuitive as it seems, taking ten minutes to sit in silence helps us recharge our batteries, reduces our stress levels and give us the peace of mind and clarity to help make better decisions," Goldberg explains.
As explained by Dr. Lisa Ashe, Medical Director of BeWell Medical Group, over email with Bustle, making time for fitness will help boost your heart rate, promote blood circulation, and release feel-good, mood-stabilizing endorphins, to calm the nerves and help you alleviate stress regularly. Figure out a workout that fits your preferences and schedule and aim for consistency in the week.
3. Build Meaningful Connections
Building meaningful connections and speaking regularly to friends and family can boost wellbeing and happiness, explains Ashe, and it's important to take time for the people that matter to you and not let those bonds break or weaken, as many often do due to work, proximity, and other commitments. Check in with loved ones, perhaps a minimum of once a week, to get updated.
4. Spend Time Outdoors
Ashe stresses the importance of natural sunlight and being outdoors. Ashe explains, "try to catch the sunlight even in the winter," as it "helps with mood and is a good source of vitamin D." Vitamin D, Ashe says, has been shown to enhance mood and bodily functions, so it's important to get enough in the day (and it's especially hard to find through consumption of food).
5. Go To Bed Earlier
Ashe recommends trying to hit the sheets earlier in order to catch more hours. The body can fatigue when there's not enough sleep time, and it's important to aim for 7-9 hours nightly for complete restoration and to reduce stress. Thus, setting an alarm to train yourself to fall asleep earlier can help you build the healthy habit. Sleep can boost overall productivity and health, Ashe explains.
6. Read A Book
Ashe suggests reading a book as a healthy habit for after-work activities, as opposed to going out to a stimulating happy hour every night of the week. Reading is great for the mind, as it flexes those working muscles, and allows you to learn more (always a benefit!). Plus, it's great for an evening habit, as it can make us sleepy before bed, which as Ashe stresses, is necessary in order to get enough hours.
Goldberg suggests meditating after work to find greater balance and to create a healthful environment overall. "When our bodies are stressed, we release adrenaline and cortisol, therefore throwing our entire systems out of balance. Meditation is the antidote to this," says Goldberg. "As we meditate, we release feel good hormones like oxytocin, the love hormone, and serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone. Therefore, meditation reduces our stress levels enabling us to keep our systems in check and find more balance in our lives," Goldberg adds.
8. Eat Something
Unless you're going straight to dinner after work, if you plan on working out or meeting friends for drinks or coffee prior to mealtime, it's important to have a snack to tide you over until dinner, or else you might get "hangry" and experience an unhealthy shift in mood due to imbalanced blood sugar, explains Liz Weinandy, RD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center over email with Bustle."The main way to balance mood and energy throughout the day is by eating a well- balanced diet and to avoid large time gaps between meals," further explains Weinandy.
9. Have Some Tea
Personally, I love leaving work to sit down with a hot cup of tea in some cozy clothes. "The L-theanine and GABA have been known to be extremely effective at helping people stay calm," explains tea expert Simon Cheng, founder and CEO of Pique Tea over email with Bustle. "L- theanine promotes relaxation without sedation, and helps the brain generate alpha waves and enter a state of mindfulness. GABA has a calming effect on the nervous system," Cheng says.
10. Eat Protein
Instead of grabbing a donut post-work or sitting down to a big bowl of pasta, eating something with protein can boost fullness and help prevent cravings for later on in the evening, advises Eugene Kang, CEO and Co-Founder, of Country Archer Jerky Co, over email with Bustle. Kang says, "Protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining energy but better yet, it boosts satiety – the feeling of fullness without the extra calories from carbs," and recommends grass-fed beef and pasture raised meat-based foods, as they have a great balance of vitamins, minerals, and lean protein.
11. Go Meatless Mondays (Or More Days!)
While having lean meats are great for health, as explained above, too, opting for plant-based protein a few times in the week can be beneficial for health and wellbeing, as it creates more balance, helps the planet, varies up the diet, and supplies tremendous nutrients. As explained by Alicia Ward, VP of Marketing at Beanitos, beans are a great example, as they "are a source of low-fat protein, a nutrient touted for keeping you fuller, longer. Beans are also high in fiber, which allow them to take longer to digest and extend your energy boost from the complex carbs in beans – giving you sustained energy. Beans have a low glycemic index to prevent insulin from spiking, which can also keep your energy levels more constant."
While hitting the office happy hours on occasion can be fun and great for networking, it's important to maintain a balance where you also fit in exercise, sleep, healthy and wholesome foods, and some downtime, where you can just be yourself in a quiet, comforting, and mellow space.
Images: Pixabay (4); Pexels (8)